October 07 2013

Pop-up Initiatives in Athens, Greece Shed Light on Economic Crisis

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a party on the rooftop of a typical 1960s building in a block at the heart of Athens. I went to the party alone and met some good friends once I got there. However, there were so many people that due to the confined space started spilling towards the adjacent rooftops, expanding their presence in all possible directions. But what really surprised me was the makeshift bar, breaking all the architecture design principles and charging booze at very low prices. A nomadic bar was taking over the Athenian rooftops – a free flow use that pops-up for a few hours and changes the building’s urban role during night hours.

Instantly, I thought of Berlin and other big metropolises of Europe and their thriving nomadic nightlife in the basements of empty buildings. Berlin’s nomadic clubs are taking over the basements; Athens’s nomadic bars the rooftops! An international urban trend where climate plays a central role and dictates the differentiations of the same phenomenon.

Real Open Air Cinema at the beach Athens, Greece

But there are more hints of pop-up activities that having steadily been expanding in Athens and suit rather well to the mild Mediterranean climate. The Real Open Air Cinema is a nomadic cinema traveling all around Athens. This summer the Open Air Cinema occupied parks, beaches and central squares of the Greek Capital, creating a positive impact in the urban realm. This portable Cinema can be set in a quarter of an hour and can host up to 5,000 people. Moreover, the Cu Pop-Up Service Bike is another smart concept made by cyclists to serve cyclists. It works perfectly for those who get a flat tire or have a mechanical breakdown in the middle of nowhere!

Pop-up Bicycle Repair Services in Athens, Greece

Although pop-up activity is expanding, it still hasn’t reached retail business. Nonetheless, there are plenty of indications that, sooner or later, pop-up will expand to the realm of retail as well. As the Greek economy tumbles into a deeper recession, all formal predictions for the two forthcoming years are more than gloomy. The augmenting rise of closed businesses in the city of Athens sets the perfect soil for pop-up activities to grow and flourish. In my view, pop-up retail seems like an one-way solution. Pop-up retail is a feasible way to decompress the extreme pressure that crisis is putting on small businesses, which are the backbone of Greek-economy. A significant first indication towards this direction is the “The Meet Market” festival. This is like a physical “Etsy festival” that since 2008, has emerged in many different locations and has counted many enthusiastic followers.

What is your opinion on pop-ups? Do you think that pop-ups can address economic problems and offer a sustainable solution with a long term perspective?

Credits: Data, images and video linked to source.

Alkisti Eleni Victoratou

Alkisti Eleni Victoratou originates from Andros, a Cycladic island in Greece, and has lived and studied in Thessaloniki, England, Spain, and Athens-where she currently resides. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and in Architecture from the National Technical University of Athens. Having this multicultural and interdisciplinary background gives her a better understanding of socially sensitive urban issues. Her dissertation thesis in Architecture dealt with the study and assessment of the legislation relating to Bioclimatic Architecture in the European Mediterranean countries of France, Spain, and Greece. Her interests also extend to sustainable technologies and parametric design, contributing to building design and urbanism. During her internship with The Grid, she will concentrate on the most important top-down and bottom-up urban transformations of Athens during their current Crisis. Her aspirations are to further her academic and professional specializations in urban issues and sustainable design.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 7th, 2013 at 9:32 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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